Lamentations 4:5
They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.
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(5) They that were brought up . . .—Literally, that were carried (as children are carried). “Scarlet” as in 2Samuel 1:24, stands for the shawls or garments of the rich, dyed, as they were, in the Tyrian purple or crimson. Those that had been once wrapped in such shawls now threw themselves, “embracing” them as their only refuge, on dunghills.

4:1-12 What a change is here! Sin tarnishes the beauty of the most exalted powers and the most excellent gifts; but that gold, tried in the fire, which Christ bestows, never will be taken from us; its outward appearance may be dimmed, but its real value can never be changed. The horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem are again described. Beholding the sad consequences of sin in the church of old, let us seriously consider to what the same causes may justly bring down the church now. But, Lord, though we have gone from thee in rebellion, yet turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Come to us, bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace.They that were brought up in scarlet - literally, "those that were carried upon scarlet;" young children in arms and of the highest birth now lie on the dirt-heaps of the city. 5. delicately—on dainties.

are desolate—or, "perish."

in scarlet embrace dunghills—Instead of the scarlet couches on which the grandees were nursed, they must lie on dunghills.

embrace—They who once shrank sensitively from any soil, gladly cling close to heaps of filth as their only resting-place. Compare "embrace the rock" (Job 24:8).


This judgment reached not only to the common people, but to persons of the highest rank and order, whose misery was now so much the greater, because so contrary to their former splendid state and way of living. They were wont to fare deliciously; now they wanted bread to eat, and were desolate in the streets. They were wont to eat upon scarlet carpets, or to lodge upon scarlet beds and conches; now they searched for their meat upon, or were glad to lie upon, dunghills. They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets,.... That were brought up in the king's palace, or in the houses of noblemen; or, however, born of parents rich and wealthy, and had been used to good living, and had fared sumptuously and deliciously every day, were now wandering about in the streets in the most forlorn and distressed condition, seeking for food of any sort, but could find none to satisfy their hunger; and so, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, perished in the ways or streets:

they that were brought up in scarlet: in dyed garments, as Jarchi; clothed with scarlet coloured ones, as was the manner of the richer and better sort of people, Proverbs 31:21; or, "brought up upon scarlet" (o); upon scarlet carpets, on which they used to sit and eat their food, as is the custom of the eastern people to this day: these

embrace dunghills, are glad of them, and with the greatest eagerness rake into them, in order to find something to feed upon, though ever so base and vile; or to sit and lie down upon. Aben Ezra interprets it of their being cast here when dead, and there was none to bury them.

(o) "super coccinum", Pagninus, Montanus; "super coccino", Piscator, Michaelis.

They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.
5. delicately] luxuriously. Children are still the subject, and not, as has been suggested, rich persons. In the latter case we should have to render carried on scarlet (i.e. litters or couches furnished with costly stuffs of that colour), unduly forcing the sense of the Heb. verb.

desolate] See on ch. Lamentations 3:11.

embrace dunghills] for want of a better couch.Verse 5. - They that did feed delicately, etc. i.e. luxuriously. The rendering has been disputed, but without sufficient ground. "They that did eat at dainties," i.e. pink at their dainty food, is forced. The Aramaic mark of the accusative need not surprise us in Lamentations (comp. Jeremiah 40:2). Brought up in scarlet; rather, borne upon scarlet; i.e. resting upon scarlet-covered couches. The poet speaks of adults, not of children. "Thou hast heard my voice" expresses the full assurance of faith from which the request comes: "Cover not Thine ear from my sighing." רוחה, "breathing out again;" in Ezekiel 8:11, mitigation of oppression, yet not here respiratio, relaxatio (C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller, etc.), - since the asyndetic לשׁועתי does not accord with such an interpretation, - but a relieving of oneself by means of deeply-drawn sighs, as in Job 32:20; hence "sighing," as Luther has already rendered it, following the Vulgate: ne avertas aurem tuum a singultu meo (Thenius, Gerlach, etc.). - In Lamentations 3:57 and Lamentations 3:58, the writer still more fully expresses his confidence that the Lord will accept him. "Thou art near on the day when I call on Thee" is a sentence found in Psalm 145:18, and uttered as the experience of all believers. "Thou sayest, Fear not," i.e., Thou assurest me of Thine assistance; cf. Jeremiah 1:8, Jeremiah 1:17, etc. "Thou dost conduct the causes (Ger. Streitsachen) of my soul" (ריבי נפשׁי), i.e., not merely "my lawsuits," but causas quae vitam et salutem meam concernunt (C. B. Michaelis). This is shown by the parallel member, "Thou redeemest my life," sc. from the destruction which threatens it; cf. Lamentations 3:53., Psalm 103:4. With this is connected the request in Lamentations 3:59, "Thou dost certainly see my oppression" (עוּתה from עוּת, to bend, oppress), the oppression which I suffer; "judge my cause," i.e., help me in my cause, cf. Jeremiah 5:28. The suppliant bases this request, Lamentations 3:60-62, on the recollection that God, as the Omniscient One, knows the plans and intentions of his opponents. "Thou seest all their plans for revenge." נקמה is not here the outcome of revenge, but the thought of revenge cherished in the heart; it does not, however, mean desire of revenge, or revengeful disposition, but simply the thinking and meditating on revenge, which certainly has the spirit of revenge for its basis, but is not identical with this. Their thoughts are the plans of vengeance. ,ליdat. incomm., "to my hurt;" the reading עלי of some codices is simply a correction after Lamentations 3:61. This revenge they express in reproaches and invectives. שׂפתי, "lips," for utterances of the lips; and קמי as in Psalm 18:40, Psalm 18:49 equals קמים עלי, Psalm 4:3, etc. שׂפתי קמי corresponds to חרפּתם, and חגיונם to מחשׁבתם, Lamentations 3:61; and the whole of Lamentations 3:62 still depends on "Thou hearest," without any need for supplying היוּ, as Rosenmller does. Thenius and Ngelsbach would combine Lamentations 3:62 with 63, and make the former dependent on הבּיטה; but this is unsuitable, nor do they consider that utterances or words are not seen (הבּיט), but heard (שׁמע). With this proposed combination there falls to the ground the further remark of Thenius, that "by lips, devising, sitting, rising up, are meant the conversation and consultation of the enemies one with another." Sitting and rising up have nothing in common with speaking about any subject, but merely form a circumlocution for action generally: cf. Psalm 139:2; Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19; Isaiah 37:28. The form מנגּינה for נגינה occurs nowhere else: Ewald considers it a form that has been lengthened for the purpose of designating a mocking song - "Sing-song." This supposition has at least more to recommend it than the ingenious but worthless idea of Bttcher, that מנגּינה is contracted from מה־נגינה, "what a stringed instrument am I to them;" but it also is improbable. מנגּינה is the subject of the נגינה, as words formed with מ often express merely the subject of the idea contained in a noun or verb; cf. Ewald, 160, b, 3. After this statement of the hostile treatment which the speaker has to suffer, there follows the renewed and further extended request that God may reward the foes according to their deeds. תּשׁיב, "Thou shalt return," is a confident expression of the request that God would do this; hence the optative תּתּן follows in Lamentations 3:65. In Lamentations 3:64 is condensed the substance of what is contained in Psalm 28:4. מגנּת לב, covering (veil) of the heart, - an expression analogous to the κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν, 2 Corinthians 3:15, - is not obduration, or hardening, but blinding of the heart, which casts into destruction; but it can scarcely signify "madness" (Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychology, Clark's translation), since the Arabic majannat, insania, furor, has probably received this meaning from jinn, genius, daemon; cf. Gesenius, Thes. s. v., and Rosenmller, ad h. l. "Thy curse to them!" is not to be viewed as dependent on "give," but to be explained in accordance with Psalm 3:9, "Thy blessing [be] upon Thy people!" - thus, "May Thy curse be their portion!" The curse of God is followed by destruction. "Destroy them from under Jahveh's heaven!" i.e., not merely ut non sint amplius sub caelis (C. B. Michaelis), because יהוה is not considered in this latter rendering. The heaven of Jahveh is the whole world, over which Jahveh's authority extends; the meaning therefore is, "Exterminate them wholly from the sphere of Thy dominion in the world," or, Thy kingdom.
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